“Never argue, never explain.” That was one of the first pieces of newspapering advice I got 25 years ago, from an old colleague when I wondered why he spent 10 minutes on the phone, silently listening to a long, loud complaint from a reader.
I don’t agree with that totally, although I do try and treat every reader, caller or commenter with respect. Everyone’s entitled to their own opinion.
These days, of course, those opinions can be shared with a wide audience, from brain to keyboard to cyberspace in an instant. There’s plenty of sites to launch from, too, including the room for comments at the end of stories in The Daily Record.
Personally, I like it. From a sports perspective, our readership is very active, whether rooting for a particular school, ranting about a coach, or getting chippy with a writer. It’s part of our job to try and keep up on what’s going on, and following along on various websites is a small part of it, even if 99% of the commenters are anonymous.
Occasionally, though, “never explain” just doesn’t get it. Sometimes commenters play loose with facts, sometimes they don’t understand what we’re trying to do. Sometimes, it is to explain something, once in awhile even to merely chime in on a conversation.
It’s why, even with a skin considerably thicker than it was 25 years ago, I reserve the right to drop in my two cents, even though I’d rather get paid for what I write.